MIRA (Mind-like Intelligence, Research, and Analysis) Group, is an integrated research and training group that incorporates aspects of a typical philosophy dissertation workshop group with those of a scientific lab group. Our focus is on an embodied, non-reductive approach to artificial intelligence, with topics of interest ranging across issues in philosophy of mind and language, cognitive science, and epistemology. The group provides foundational support for advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in these topics. Together, we collaborate on projects, workshop individual members’ papers, and acquire the philosophical and interdisciplinary skills that are important to our work. All students are encouraged to pursue their own ideas and projects, even when they explicitly disagree with or criticize the PI’s work. MIRA’s inherent breadth helps students develop competence in areas outside of their thesis topics. 

MIRA additionally has both an intellectual and a practical focus on diversity. We work to better understand the challenges facing people from underrepresented groups in philosophy and STEM, and to find strategies for making such intellectual environments more supportive and inclusive.



In addition to meetings specifically for group members, MIRA works to foster intellectual community across Penn and surrounding cognitive science/ robotics communities. 

We regularly host reading groups and visiting speakers. 



January 29, 2018: Guest speaker: Daniel E. Koditschek, Alfred Fitler Moore Professor, Electrical and Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania.

February 26, 2018: Reading: John Symons (2008) "Computational Models of Emergent Properties," Minds and Machines 18 (4):475-491.

March 26, 2018: Reading: Yoshua Bengio and Yann LeCun (2007) Scaling Learning Algorithms towards AI

April 23, 2018: Reading: GGuttenberg, Biehl, Kanai (2017) Learning Body Affordances to Simplify Action Spaces, Guttenberg, Yu, and Kanai (2017) Counterfactual Control for free from Generative Models.

TBD, 2018: Guest speaker: Ian Phillips (Birmingham/ Princeton), TBA. 


July 19, 2017: Paul Reverdy, Postdoctoral Fellow at Kod*Lab, GRASP, University of Pennsylvania. 

September 25, 2017: The Embodied Mind, rev. ed. 2016, by Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch. Introductions, pp. xi-lxi. 

October 9, 2017: Melissa Jacquart, "Observing the Invisible: The Hunt for Dark Matter with Computer Simulations."

October 30, 2017: The Embodied Mind, Chs 1-2 (The Departing Ground). 

November 20, 2017: The Embodied Mind, Chs 3-4 (Varieties of Cognitivism). 

November 27, 2017: The Embodied Mind, Chs 5-6 (Varieties of Emergence).

If you're interested in joining MIRA for our Open meetings, you can subscribe here.




Lisa Miracchi

Lisa Miracchi is the leader and organizer of MIRA. She is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research is mainly in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and philosophy of cognitive science. She is currently working on a project on the foundations of Artificial Intelligence that combines her achievement-first, competence-based approach to mental states with dynamical and embodied approaches. 



Ben Baker

Ben is a PhD student in Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and received a JD from Yale University and a bachelors degree in philosophy and economics from Brown University. He is mainly interested in philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and neuroscience. He is working on a dissertation about dynamical approaches to cognition, especially on the role that learning plays in shaping one's cognitive abilities. 


Ramathi Bandaranayake

Ramathi is an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania (Class of 2018). She is pursuing a double major in philosophy and English. Her areas of interest include philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and philosophical questions related to freedom and autonomy. She is interested in mental representation, perception, and objectivity, and issues related to mathematics and science education and public understanding of science and mathematics. She is a member of the Philomathean Society, and in her spare time enjoys reading, hiking, music and film.

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Shereen Chang

Shereen Chang is a PhD candidate in Philosophy investigating how we reason about cognition and what we can learn about cognition from studying animals with brains that are quite different from ours. Shereen’s research emphasizes avian cognition, especially parrots, who share many social and behavioural traits with humans and other primates.  One of her current research projects investigates how to justify analogical inferences about the cognitive capacities of nonhuman animals who exhibit complex behaviours similar to that of humans.


Isabel Gwara

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania pursuing a major in Cognitive Science and a minor in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (Class of 2018). I am also a University Scholar and a teaching assistant for two courses in the Computer and Information Science department. My interests include the relationship between mind, body, and truth or the real world; epistemic injustice with a focus on externalism; cross-cultural definitions of sexuality; and intersectionality as an instrument of social justice. I am currently exploring the rich relationship between gender and sexuality in a senior thesis project with Professor Miracchi.


Max Lewis

Max is a Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to Penn, he received an M.A. in philosophy from Brandeis University and an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School. His main philosophical interests are in metaethics, epistemology, and philosophy of action—as well as their intersection. He has secondary interests in bioethics and philosophy of religion. His current research concerns the epistemic and moral dimensions of moral testimony.


Sonia Pearson

Sonia Pearson is an undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing a double major in cognitive science and philosophy and a minor in math. She is interested in the way in which people make decisions and the extent of their own agency. In her free time, she likes to read and make terrible jokes. 


Sonia Roberts

I am a Electrical and Systems Engineering PhD student in Kod*lab, which is part of the GRASP lab at the University of Pennsylvania. I am studying legged locomotion in fragile environments such as sand, rubble piles, or dense vegetation.

I graduated from Vassar College in 2010 with a B.A. in Cognitive Science where I worked under Prof. John Long building and experimenting with biologically inspired robots to test hypotheses about biomechanics and evolutionary biology.

Prior to coming to UPenn, I worked as a research technician on the Fly Olympiad Project at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus attempting to create a functional map of the Drosophila melanogaster brain.


Jordan Taylor

Jordan is a graduate student at Penn’s Department of Philosophy. Prior to arriving at Penn he earned a Master of Philosophy degree from the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University. His main interests are the philosophy and psychology of perception and emotion, and the philosophy of cognitive science more broadly.

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Eugene Vaynberg

Eugene Vaynberg seeks to pursue a PhD in philosophy. He received bachelor's degrees in physics and math from the University of Rochester and has since been taking philosophy courses through Penn's College of Liberal and Professional Studies. He is interested in the philosophy of science, mind, cognitive science, psychology, and biology. 


Mingjun Zhang

I am currently a third-year PhD student in the Department of Philosophy at U. Penn. I am interested in philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind, and public understanding of science, especially the public understanding of evolution in China. Now I am working on two projects: one is about methodological adaptationism in evolutionary biology, and the other is about the concept of ecological niche.